Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Labor Day Visit to Tennessee

My grandparents and many of my aunts and uncles live in east Tennessee. Unfortunately, we have not made the trip to visit them in two years. So, we decided to make the most of the holiday weekend and head up for a visit. My parents and my youngest sister Amy and her family also made the trip. It was so good to see my family after such a long time . . . my grandparents did look a little older, but still seem to be doing great for their age. The kids enjoyed visiting with everyone and even said they want to move there, lol! It was a great weekend with family! Here is a picture of the kids with my grandparents--my Papaw isn't as stern as he looks, for some reason he never smiles in photos, lol!

Ella Boo Comes to Visit!

One of the highlights of the summer has been anticipating little Ella's visit. Ella is my one-year-old niece, daughter of my sister Angie and her husband Rabb. Angie had to attend an education conference near our home, so she and Ella came up a night early and stayed with us. The day of the conference, Ella (aka 'Boo') stayed with us! What a day it was for Anna Beth, she played 'mommy' all day, catering to Ella's every need (whether she wanted her to or not, lol). Ella was great--she missed her mommy a little bit in the morning, but was ready to go after her morning nap. We absolutely loved having her and hope she will visit again soon!

Child's World, Here Comes Anna Beth!

Anna Beth started back at her preschool the day after Labor Day . . . and believe me, she has been counting down the days since the boys started back! It has been a little lonely here at the Cleft with Riley Catherine and Blaine gone to Kindergarten, so preschool was a welcomed event. She looked as precious as ever in her navy & red apple dress and braids. My heart cringed a little when she ALMOST forgot to kiss me before hopping out of the car to her teacher, lol, but she DID remember! She had a wonderful time and was all smiles when I picked her up at noon . . . I think it is going to be another great year!

Ethan & Graham Go Back to School

The boys started back to school on August 11th. Graham was eager and very excited, and Ethan . . . well, he was a little less so, as usual. Overall they had a great first day. Graham wanted to wear his new tie-dye spirit shirt and Ethan chose a very 'tough' football shirt with spikes on a helmet, lol--guess that gave him the fifth-grade 'edge'! We feel so blessed with their grade teachers and their focus teachers--they are all so wonderful! These photos are compliments of Andrea Jenkins since I completely forgot to take photos before they left! Here are my boys with her boys, Blaine and Jarrett:

Personally, I absolutely CANNOT believe I have a 3rd grader and a 5th grader--WHERE does the time go!

Back-to-School Celebration!

We enjoyed a Back-to-School Celebration with our neighbors, the Warbingtons & the Jenkins, the afternoon before school started. It started with prayer over the new school year and a yummy mexican dinner; then the adults gathered around to watch the children run through the back-to-school banner. And WHAT a show it was . . . the daddies introduced each child, announcing interesting and sometimes exaggerated stats about the child as they busted through! Afterwards the kids danced by the lake . . . and then on the trampoline, lol . . . and then we enjoyed a cookie cake for dessert. The sparklers at the end of the celebration were the finishing touch. The children absolutely LOVED every moment, it was a wonderful way to kick-off the new year. A BIG 'Thank You' to the Warbingtons and Jenkins for including us this year!

LeConte Hike 2008

I am SO BEHIND with my posting, so I'm going to try to make these quick! In July, Kip and I went on our now annual hike to LeConte Lodge in the Smokies. It is a great experience, even for a city girl like me. The lodge at the top is VERY rustic with no electricity or running water in the cabins--and certainly no cell phone service. I have never seen the stars from this viewpoint, and it is amazing! This year we hiked with three other couples--the Holidays, the Mikles and the Geigers.
It was a great hike with fabulous weather (that is KEY after our 3-mile hike in a severe thunder/hail/lightening/rain storm last year). We took our regular 5-mile hike up Alum Cave--it is the shortest, steepest route with breathtaking views. After a warm meal, we enjoyed the sunset on the cliffs and then played cards by lantern-light in the common area. The next morning, we headed out after breakfast, taking the Trillion trail down. It was a less steep 6.5 mile route through the woods--not as scenic, but beautiful in it's own right. Also, we saw the Llama train taking the supplies up to the Lodge--they take this trail up and down several times during the week. We have all decided that this is a trail that our boys can definitely handle, so they will be joining us next year--they are ecstatic!